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Failed To Death: Luz Valdez

4:53 PM, Nov 11, 2012   |    comments
Luz Valdez
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Age: 3 mos.
Born: Sept 4, 2007
Died: Dec 30, 2007
Location: Denver
Suspect in death: Isidoro Valdez, father

On Dec. 28, 2007, Valdez shook the 3-month-old girl until she was unconscious. She died soon after.

The Denver Department of Human Services received at least four reports of suspected abuse or neglect occurring in Luz's family. Two of them were received during the months before Luz was born, according to a state and county review of Luz's death. Caseworkers had contact with Luz twice during her short life.

The children's mother, Mary Campos, who had a history of methamphetamine use, threatened her three children in an emergency room, the review said. While the then-21-year-old was pregnant with Luz, her fourth child, allegations of abuse and concerns about Campos' ability to care for her children continued to stack up.

Two months after Luz was born, Campos asked for help.

During a medical appointment for her older son, Campos also asked the doctor to examine Luz. Campos told the doctor that Valdez dropped Luz three times and was placing the infant in dangerous positions, such as on the edge of the couch.

A caseworker met with the family at their Denver home.

Campos told caseworkers she thought Valdez may have been placing Luz in the positions on purpose, according to a referral sheet from Luz's file. Without talking to Valdez, the caseworker determined that he probably never dropped Luz but repeatedly "placed the baby in precarious positions and she fell," the review said.

A month later, Luz was brought to the emergency room with major head trauma. Valdez admitted to having shaken Luz. She died two days later.

Valdez pleaded guilty to child abuse causing death and was sentenced to 36 years in prison.

In addition to not interviewing Valdez, caseworkers did not consider the family's history and other factors when determining whether Luz was safe - two of six rule violations caseworkers made before she died.

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